Well, I wanted to read something nice. I searched on the internet and came across this list of 100 best books of all time. The first book was ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe. It was published in 1958. The plot is set in the 1890s when the white men started colonizing parts of Africa. The protagonist is ‘Okonkwo’, a warrior and a well respected man in a tribe at ‘Umofia’.
The book very well describes the life and customs of Umofia. Their gods, leaders and their administration. It’s kind of a democracy. A better democracy than most countries today. Men with titles decided on key issues. The harsh punishments at the tribes, kept people from wrong doing. The book also describes their agriculture, crop cycles and support to a fellow tribesman by the whole tribe. The weddings and celebration mark great culture of the tribes before they were colonized. At some point of time through the book, I felt it would have been nice to live in a world like that. The titles, the men and their goat skin leather bags used to carry wine, the respect for village gods, chi and the way village meetings are conducted is nice. The concept of ‘mehr’ ensured respect for women and the titles ensured respect for men.
It’s not a book of sympathy. A lot of people say that the book has been light on the effects of colonization, that it should have sympathized the victims of colonization. If Achebe had done that, it wouldn’t have been such a great book. The book is a wider subject that tries to convey a message to the world about the change that colonization brought. Umofia has no chance to stop this change happen. Umofia was just an example, there are thousands of tribes and villages that were affected by this sudden change.
How would someone feel if a group of strange looking people come to tell them everything they’ve been doing is wrong, bring in a new system and try to rule them? When the white men came at Umofia, they told the gods that tribesmen prayed were wrong and brought their own religion. They brought their own court which functioned above the tribe. They brought police and punishments and the whole system changed. For a society like Umofia or any other triibe/village at that time this would have been an extremely difficult situation and Achebe has portrayed this very nicely. Also, the book explains how religion influences administration and everyday life of people in a smaller level.
Altogether, it’s a great book. An easy and interesting read. It’s a book that helps you understand a lot of things like politics and governance in the precolonial world. It’s a must read. It hardly takes a day or two to read it and I read it on my phone. Now I’m gonna read the sequel – No Longer at Ease.